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I know what speed runs are, but what does 'any %' mean when speedrunning Diablo 2?

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While I haven't played Diablo 2, I can tell you any% speedruns are speedruns with the goal of finishing the game as fast as possible, while allowing the player to ignore side content. The percent symbol refers to the % of activities completed in the game - in this case it refers to not completing side activities in the speedrun. Other speedrunners attempt to complete all activities available in the game, known as a 100% Speedrun.

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    "Any%" without qualifiers usually also means all (or great most) glitches and skips are allowed. So you're free to ignore a lot of the "main" content as well, as long as you're able to reach the end of the game. In case of multiple endings, any is OK, "bad ending" too. – SF. Feb 25 at 19:06
  • For some games, there's also low%, which is basically "complete the game, but do as little as possible." For example, low% in Super Mario Odyssey (on version 1.0, with 2 player mode allowed) means "Complete the game with only three captures." (It's three because so far, nobody has figured out how to do it in two.) – Kevin Feb 26 at 5:02
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    Depending on the game, there are also 0% (or low %) runs, in which you must avoid as much content as possible. Most notably are Metroid games, where collecting upgrades must be avoided for a low % run. – Nolonar Feb 26 at 14:35
  • @Nolonar Yeah, Metroid games are probably the best example of low% speedrun games out there due to how notoriously rife with sequence breaks they are. Fusion even allows for a 0% speedrun because it does not count mandatory upgrades towards completion percentage and you can sequence-break past the first missile pickup (which is otherwise functionally a forced pickup). – Austin Hemmelgarn Feb 27 at 21:40
  • [Comments Removed] - The discussion regarding the contested edit has moved to this meta - the comments that sparked that meta have been moved to chat for posterity. – Robotnik Feb 28 at 10:23
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You can see the rules and descriptions specifically for diablo 2 here https://www.speedrun.com/d2lod (press 'view rules' button)

Any% in d2 means that the timer starts on character creation of a lvl 1 Char in Act 1 and ends when Baal dies within the category difficulty (normal, nightmare, hell).

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Generally, as @PausePause has said, Any% (without any qualifiers) involves using "any means necessary" to "complete the game" as quickly as possible - the quotations are there because what exactly those terms entail vary from game to game, and is generally agreed upon by the speed-running community of the individual game. The terms for Diablo 2 (As @jstq has provided) is a relatively uncontroversial example.

Typically, "completing the game" means defeating the final boss or reaching the end credits screen, and "any means necessary" allows for any glitches, bugs and exploits (AFAIK cheat codes are generally, but not always, disallowed).

This very permissive definition often allows for strange exploits that reach the end screen while skipping pretty much the entire game to qualify - search for "Super Mario Bros. 3 any%" for an example. Diablo 2 however does not seem to be one of those cases.

Also, do note that any% does not ban players from completing side activities - in fact, quite frequently speedrunners will go through technically unnecessary content if time spent playing said content can be offset elsewhere by whatever it unlocks (e.g. obtaining a fast vehicle)

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  • Why is it that cheat codes are disallowed but glitches, bugs, and exploits are allowed? If you aren't supposed to cheat, then wouldn't using "unintended" cheats still be... cheating? – TylerH Feb 26 at 15:12
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    Because in most cases, cheat codes are explicitly cheats, as in, it is clear that they are intended to be cheats. In the case of glitches, the definition is incredibly vague, and it is almost imposible to draw a hard line. Even for games which do have glitchless categories, the definition of glitchless is usually very arbitrary (decided by the community) because you can't know what is and isn't intended. Furthermore, some glitches are so omnipresent in a game that you need to make an active (sometimes ridiculous) effort to avoid them (ex: Bunnyhopping in many games) – Kaito Kid Feb 26 at 15:17
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    @KaitoKid: In my experience, glitchless categories only even exist when the glitches that have been found are so overwhelmingly game-breaking that you end up with a completely different route if you use them. This is usually reserved for more dramatic glitches like wrong-warps, but for games like Portal and Superliminal, it sometimes just comes down to "don't go out of bounds" (because in those games, going out of bounds lets you skip 80-90% of the game). – Kevin Feb 26 at 19:55
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    @TylerH it's going to depend on the game. There's gray area in what "cheats" are truly cheating or part of the game. Is using the warp zone in Mario cheating? It doesn't really matter. All that matters is that everyone within a category follows the same rules. Is using a "god mode" cheat in an FPS cheating? Again, it doesn't matter so long as everyone in the category follows the same rules. -- According to speedrun.com, Any% allows warp pipes and warpless doesn't, just for reference. (speedrun.com/smb1) – Captain Man Feb 26 at 22:49
  • Hollow Knight's most popular category is "Any% No Major Glitches". This still allows a variety of skips, using offensive spells to extend jump range, or damage from enemies to reach otherwise unreachable places, and display mastery of the game mechanics. "All glitches" instead corrupts the world map generating a shortcut to one of the three dreamers to kill it three times through glitching save mechanics,and turn the final boss room into an environmental death trap for said final boss. – SF. Feb 28 at 12:54
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"Any%" for any game is generally defined as "reach the end credits screen without using cheat codes." Each community, such as Twin Galaxies, speedrun.com, Speed Runs Live, TAS videos, Speed Demo Archives, Awesome Games Done Quick, et al, will define their own set of rules, with at least TAS being a weird outlier compared to other communities.

For example, TAS (Tool Assisted Speedruns) allows some console commands, input-scripting tools for mouse and keyboard input, segmented speed runs (recording each section of the game over and over again for best results), any game glitches, and frame-counted timings so the run doesn't have to be played at 100% speed. Notably, TAS does not allow New Game+ content, if any such content is applicable to a game.

Other communities may only count RTA (Real Time Attacks), not segmented runs, may allow NG+ content or mods, or may allow (or not) certain console commands, glitches, frame rate limits, and more. There may also be different categories, such as "any%", "any% glitchless" (no intentional glitching allowed), etc, even within a single community.

In addition, each difficulty level is considered its own "any%" category, such as "any% normal" versus "any% hell". This means that you'll find different times for different difficulties, and all of them may be simultaneously a world record, despite having wildly different times.

In other words, there is not precisely one "any%" for Diablo 2, but instead a couple of dozen various types based on community rules and different categories within each community. The TAS run is only 22 minutes long, while most RTAs appear to be around the 1 hour, 12 minute mark. They are all perfectly valid in their own community's rules, even if they wouldn't be accepted elsewhere.

That's the beauty of speed runs. There's something out there for almost everyone, from "casual" RTA to hypercompetitive TAS, and everything in between. Some communities might even allow "joke%" runs, where the objective is to reach some arbitrary condition (usually not completion, but something absurd like "collect 100 buckets").

Also, there's tangentially related speed runs, like "low%", where every item you pick up, even currency, can count against you; the goal is to reach the end credits with the absolute minimum amount of pickups. These are interesting because a new, longer run can be the record if you eliminate a single item from a faster, but heavier, run.

So, in conclusion, what is "any%"? It's whatever the community you're playing with, or watching, agrees that it is, and there are different, conflicting versions of what counts for an any% run. It's up to you to decide what you consider a legitimate any% run community. You may also find people who speed run by their own rules and are not necessarily part of a community, perhaps because nobody else wants to play by those rules. Speed runs are not about notoriety, so much as it is about having fun. You get to decide what counts as fun or not.

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  • And apparently I've speed run my fastest downvote with this answer. And no comment, either. If anyone cares to explain why this answer is so bad, I'd appreciate it. – phyrfox Feb 27 at 11:55
  • TAS does not typically allow console commands, and typically does "allow" NG+ content (more specifically, TAS runs, like every other "type" of run, will specify whether or not they are NG+ runs. TAS, like segmented/RTA/etc., isn't a single category in itself, it's a type of run that is endlessly subcategorized). Also, it's extremely rare for a community to outright reject an entire category as invalid, though there have been exceptions (e.g., Twin Galaxies vs. glitches drama). – Esther Feb 28 at 3:59
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The "Any %" category means that the final score of the speedrun is judged entirely based on the finishing time regardless of what was done. This is in contrast to a "Low %" speed run, where a low % actually trumps a lower speed.

This is especially true in the speedrun records of Zelda: The Twilight Princess. You can see that the Any % record is a little less than 3 hours but the Low % record is a ridiculous 24+ hours.

This video explains why the low% is so long, and it involves doing something really bizarre for many hours to skip a significant part of the game.

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